07/30/08 12:04 AM ET
Kotchman appreciated, Teixeira lauded
Angels know they are giving up a lot to get more in return
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Letting go of Casey Kotchman won't be easy.
"It's part of the business, I know," Anderson was saying long after Kotchman had said his farewells and taken off for Atlanta, detached on Tuesday along with pitching prospect Steve Marek in exchange for slugger Mark Teixeira. "I got to know Casey real well. He's a good friend. I'll miss him.
"It's the nature of the business. Our front office has always maintained that if they felt they were improving the team, they would do whatever is necessary. They've gotten a lot of heat for trades they haven't made. They felt this was the right thing to do."
For John Lackey, who came within two outs of hurling his first Major League no-hitter in the wake of the blockbuster trade and settled for a 6-2 decision over the Red Sox, a statement was made by management with the big move.
"It definitely gives you the feeling the front office thinks you have a chance to win," Lackey said. "They're going for it, and it gives you a lot of confidence.
"Casey was a huge part of our team. He was a guy, when early in the season we weren't scoring a lot of runs, who was a key part of our offense. Kotch is a really good player, but I don't think you can say it's not an upgrade.
"I faced [Teixeira] a lot when he was in Texas -- and didn't do too well."
Reverberations were felt all the way to the West Coast when the deal became public late Tuesday afternoon.
"It made a great team even better," said injured Oakland A's first baseman Mike Sweeney. "Their lineup was one of the best in baseball, and you add Teixeira to the mix, that's some serious firepower, brother."
A handful of A's conceded that the defending division champs were in the driver's seat even without Teixeira.
"I was kind of surprised by [the trade]," said Oakland designated hitter/outfielder Jack Cust. "They were doing so well, and sometimes you don't want to mess with the clubhouse. Kotchman was having a good year for them, too. He was going a great job for them.
"But Teixeira does make them a more dangerous lineup."
Kotchman was batting .287 with 12 homers, 54 RBIs, a .327 on-base percentage and a .448 slugging percentage.
Teixeira was batting .283 with 20 homers, 78 RBIs, a .390 on-base percentage and a .512 slugging percentage.
A's manager Bob Geren called it "a good trade for both teams," but Sweeney left no doubt as to which team he thought improved the most in the short term.
"Kotchman's a really good player," Sweeney said. "It's not like he was a hole in their lineup. They were a really good team with him. But now ... they don't have any holes in the lineup now, that's for sure."
Torii Hunter also is familiar with Teixeira from chasing his drives during Teixeira's big seasons with the Rangers. Hunter was with the Twins then, and he's looking forward to getting to know the big guy.
"At first base, he's like Kotch -- with all the power in the world," Hunter said. "Look at his track record -- he can rake from both sides of the plate.
"Kotch did a great job for us, but you've got to give to get -- and we got it."
Hunter expects Teixeira to be thrilled to be on a contender after never tasting postseason play.
"He has a chance to win and go to the playoffs for the first time," Hunter said. "He's going to be pumped. This is a great situation, a great ballclub. We have a good time here. He'll fit right in, I think."
Kotchman, on his way out the door, thanked his teammates for their support -- saving a few special words for Anderson, a mentor of sorts in so many ways.
"Garret Anderson is, to me, one of the most underrated players and people that you're going to find," Kotchman said. "Being around him and seeing how he goes about his business -- the way he lets his performance speak for itself -- has left a big impression on me. He's been a good influence on not only me, but a lot of players."
The first number Kotchman dialed after he got the news belonged to his father, Tom Kotchman, who has signed and helped develop so many of the Angels as a scout and Rookie ball manager at Orem.
"He asked me if I was happy," Kotchman said, "and when I said I was, he said, 'Yeah, I'm happy too, then.' My dad is very supportive, as a dad should be. He's sensitive to his kids' feelings.
"I'm excited, I really am. There's nothing negative out of this."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.